A minute-to-minute account of rape, based on true stories of survivors.
She swings on her burqa as she downs the thick, sweet chaai in one gulp. The foreman will create a scene if she’s late again today – without Amma, gone to a shrine in interior of Sindh to pray for her marriage, to wake her up, she tends to oversleep.
She steps out of the house with a prayer. Her steps become quicker as she passes them in the alley. Lurking, leering, they kiss the air as she walks past. One of them growls, “Never any time for us, haan?”
Head bowed, heart thudding, she walks right past them.
She does this every day – checks the spring in her step, curbs the sway of her body, makes sure she is covered from head to toe. None of it is a deterrent.
On the bus, she finds a seat in the women’s section. Sinking down, she counts the number of days until her mother comes back. Four days, an eternity.
She is back at home, in the courtyard, when the nightmare begins. She first sees their faces peering over the wall, then hears the thuds as they jump into her house. Instantly, she makes a mad dash for the only room in the house, bolts the door and repeats a prayer over and over again. The prayer isn’t enough. The door gives way at one kick, and the man leading the pack, the same man who glares at her everyday as she crosses her street, knocks her to the ground.
A swift kick in her face silences her momentarily. But when she hears their laughter at her moaning, she starts screaming again: “Help me, somebody! Please, for the love of God!” Her neighbours are at home – surely, someone will save her.
“If you don’t shut up now, we’ll also kill you,” one man tells her softly, leaning over so that she can smell the alcohol on his breath.
One by one, they rape her, raining punches on her ribs, clawing her face. She passes out.
She regains consciousness as they splash water on her face.
“Next time, we’re coming in through the door,” one of them says before exiting. “Breathe a word of this to anyone and you’re dead.”
Her only response is a whimper.
She lies still for some time after they’ve left. Tears roll down her cheeks. Her body feels destroyed.
Finally, she gathers herself up. She is shivering, no longer just with pain, but with rage, and whispering, through gritted teeth, “I will not let them go” over and over again.
She puts on her burqa, and leaves for a friend’s house a few streets from hers.
The next day
The woman from the NGO, is encouraging. Even though she took a shower soon after she reached her friend’s house, washing away most of the physical evidence, the worker assures her that her case is still strong.
They go to the police to record a formal statement.
“You must have encouraged them in some way,” says the thaanedaar. “Don’t tell us that you’re an angel.”
However, her helper refuses to back down from recording a statement, and makes phone calls that galvanise the police officers into action. Even so, it takes them 7 hours at the police station to get the FIR recorded. It is 1:00 am at night, but her exhaustion melts away when the NGO worker tells her that these men will be behind bars one day.
“She has already lost her izzat (honour); now they are threatening to kill her,” her mother tells the NGO worker. “I can take her to the village and get her married off. No one needs to know what happened.”
“But she has a strong case,” is the response.
“It is up to her. But if she wastes her life on this case, she will not get married.”
She listens listlessly. How could she have thought that she could win? Her life has already been destroyed, does she also want to shatter her mother’s dreams, perhaps put her life, at risk? She looks at the woman who got her through this, “I don’t want to pursue this case.”
This account is based on three almost identical, real accounts of rape
Source: WAR, families’ of survivors
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2013.